Thursday, August 30, 2007

United States v. Stefan Goff: Another sentence vacated and remanded because it was too light!

In United States v. Stefan Goff, Goff's sentence was vacated and remanded because Goff only received a sentence of 4 months imprisonment, 3 years of supervised release, and a $10,000 fine for possessing hundreds of images of child pornography which were purchased online.

This is the way the sentencing guidelines should have worked:

1. No previous criminal record set the set the "Criminal History" axis as Category 1.

2. The base offense level was 15.

3. The offense level was increased by 2 levels because the porn images involved prepubescent minors or minors who had not reached the age of 12. This makes the offense level 17.

4. The offense level was increased by another 2 levels because the offense involved the use of a computer. The offense level is now 19.

5. The presentence officer recommended another 5-level increase because the offense involved 600 or more images. The offense level is now 24.

6. The lower court credited Goff with a 3-level reduction because he accepted responsibility, putting the final offense level at 21.

For a level 21 offense, the applicable Guidelines range is 37-46 months.

The Government argued that the sentence should be no lower than that warranted by offense level 16, which removes the 5-level enhancement for over 600 images, as many of them were duplicates and Goff possessed only 360 different images. The Third Circuit Court noted, however, that this would result in a 4-level enhancement, bringing the offense level back up to 20, which has a sentencing range of 33-41 months.

The Court decided that 4 months, instead of 33-41 months, was "unreasonable . . . because the circumstances do not warrant such a downward variance."

The issue with the lower Court seemed to be Goff's exemplary life and service to the Community, along with his claim that the crime was a victimless crime which he committed alone and involved no one else.

But Goff's crime is not victimless. Goff's purchase of those porn images supports a growing menace to our society. He aided and abetted the subjection of children to this evil practice.

I am glad the Third Circuit vacated and remanded this sentence. 33-41 months is a just and reasonable sentence for purchasing and possessing 360 images of child porn that involves children under the age of 12.

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